AT&T is asking the FCC for a three-year license to test 5G wireless technology in Austin, Texas.
Wireless consulting engineer Steve Crowley spotted the filings and posted them on Twitter. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to test technology that could become 5G at 3.5GHz, 4GHz, 15GHz and 28GHz.
AT&T says in the filings that it is seeking permission "to begin conducting these experiments now to allow for trials before the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) 5G standards are finalized in the 2018 to 2019 time period."
The radio frequencies give some clues to what AT&T might test. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and friends have been pushing the FCC to open 3.5GHz spectrum for small cells and more, which has now been approved and is expected to be ready to go by the end of the year. Prototype 3.5GHz radios are already ready. (See 3.5GHz Startup Gets $22M for Small Cells.)
Ericsson has been testing a pre-standard 5G system at 15GHz. (See 5G Faces Key Decisions in 2016.)
AT&T's major rival Verizon Wireless has so far been much more vocal about an aggressive 5G timeline than Ma Bell, with Verizon planning to start testing this year, with limited commerical deployment in 2017. The AT&T test requests show that the operator may not be willing to sit on its hands and let Verizon claim all the early 5G glory in the US. (See Verizon CEO: US Commercial 5G Starts in 2017.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading